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For IEEE President-Elect de Marca, Everything is Connected

Monday, December 2nd, 2013
J. Roberto B. de Marca, 2014 IEEE President

J. Roberto B. de Marca, 2014 IEEE President

Industry engagement. Social media. Membership recruitment and retention. It would be easy, and even tempting, to become siloed in one interest area, or strategy. However, IEEE President-elect Dr.  J. Roberto B. de Marca is taking a holistic approach by combining seemingly disparate areas into one overarching vision for the organization’s future.

‘We have to face the challenges posed by social media to professional organizations,” de Marca said from the Meeting Series in New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

“It used to be that professional organizations were the only way to truly connect with your peers and learn about new research and publications. Now people can do that networking online. We have to ask ourselves, what can we deploy in our services and products that will face this challenge?”

This challenge is one that has prompted de Marca to scrutinize all aspects of IEEE, from how the organization recruits and keeps members, to engaging industry leaders, to making the organization attractive to young engineers.

But it’s from this challenge of online engagement that de Marca is taking another lesson; how necessary it is to engage industry leaders for and in the evolution of IEEE.

“Over the years, for different reasons and because the industry changed, participation in the IEEE from the industry has gone down,” he said. “Some engineers feel their companies don’t give them the necessary time to participate in volunteer activities. I’m going to meet with industry leaders to find out what we can do so that they will consider engagement with us relevant, and hopefully motivate them to allow their employees to participate in a way that will help the company, and IEEE.”

This engagement is key for the continued development of new technologies, de Marca says, something he’s made a priority for his presidential year. “We have to stay at the forefront of emerging technologies,” he said. “Investing in fostering and developing, and becoming leaders in the development of, technology like cloud computing, big data, smart cities, smart grid… That’s only possible to do if you have significant industry development. It’s not the academics who push the development of new technologies, it’s industry.”

In that challenge, de Marca is particularly eyeing a younger generation of engineers, who are having their networking needs met through platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook. He says that it’s only through pushing the development of new technologies that these young engineers will be engaged in the IEEE, and in turn, help the organization continue to innovate. “We have products and services here and there that serve young professionals, but do we have a comprehensive package that appeals to the new engineer?” he asked rhetorically.

These new engineers are now anywhere, and everywhere, in the world, as IEEE rapidly grows outside of Regions 1-6. “In my opinion, IEEE has a bigger role outside the U.S. than in the U.S.,” de Marca said. “Some of the IEEE leadership boards are mostly U.S., but when you go to other counties and see the prestige and reputation and impact we can have, our members outside the U.S. are sometimes more passionate and more active, especially the young professionals and student groups.”

De Marca is speaking from experience. He’s held visiting appointments in industry and academia on several continents, and has worked closely with students around the world. Some of his appointments have been in the U.S. at UCLA and AT&T Bell Labs; in France at Telecom Paris; in Germany’s NEC Europe Labs; in Italy at CSELT-Telecom Italia and Politecnico di Torino; in the University of Toronto and the Hong Kong Univ. of Science and Technology.

Despite turmoil in certain regions of the world, de Marca said that IEEE members share a common bond. “When you go to a region 8 meeting you see people from Israel and Iraq sitting next to each other,” he said. “When our members participate in a meeting they are politically agnostic, fighting for development, activities… Their political differences don’t have an impact.”

De Marca said one of his priorities next year will be to bring this same cooperation to the internal operations of IEEE. “One of the challenges is to get all the units to work together, even including staff,” he said.

“But we are learning how to do that through the Future Directions area. That’s an area where we have been learning how to work together with different units to achieve a goal,” he said. “We have to make sure the board can make decisions and see that those decisions are implemented in a timely way. Sometimes it’s a little slow. Of course there may be other changes we can’t know, like big changes in the societies, for instance.”

But despite any changes that may come, de Marca’s vision for IEEE is clear. He sees an efficient IEEE, one that makes the most of its existing technologies, while encouraging industry leaders in their development of new technologies. This will in turn attract new members to help IEEE continue to engage and thrive online and off.

“There’s no one without the other,” he said. “It’s all connected.”

De Marca, who previously served as Vice president of Technical Activities, President of the IEEE Communications Society, Chair of the Future Directions Board, and on the MGA Board, is on the faculty of the Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


IEEE’s Past President Envisions the Future

Thursday, June 13th, 2013



Leah H. Jamieson

2013 President, IEEE Foundation
2008 IEEE President
2003 IEEE Technical Activites Vice President
Purdue University, John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering
Purdue University, Ransburg Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering



When asked if Technical Activities has changed since she became a member of IEEE nearly forty years ago, IEEE Fellow and former President Leah Jamieson says both Technical Activities and her perspective have changed.

“In my earliest interactions through Signal Processing and Computer societies, my focus was on very specific research,” she recalls. “I went to Technical Activities conferences and publications because I had interest in particular research topics.”

Five years after completing her term as president and ten since her term as VP-TAB, Jamieson is the president of the IEEE Foundation. “Compared to when I started my career, I see much more activity at the boundaries between research areas. These are reflections of how not only Technical Activities in IEEE has changed, but how the technical world has changed.”

Jamieson says there is a growing conversation about how those boundary areas should be navigated: in IEEE, in academia, and the technical community at-large. “We grapple with how much we want students to have depth and how much we want them to have breadth,” she says. “In reality you need both, not in one person but collectively. It’s important to have strong pillars but they must be pillars and not silos so you can build bridges across them.”

Jamieson has made building bridges a priority during her time at IEEE. During her presidency, she spearheaded the Public Visibility Initiative to create greater awareness of IEEE and its works on a global level. When asked about the success of the initiative, Jamieson said, “It’s not done, and I don’t think it will ever be done. But I do get the sense that IEEE is engaging some thought leaders in ways we rarely did before. And I think the idea that people should be paying attention to the profession and the visibility of IEEE is getting more attention.”

Some of those thought leaders include voices that have been traditionally left out of the discussions surrounding technology. “One of the goals for IEEE is to advance technology for humanity. The responsibility that comes with making a statement that’s that bold is doing everything you can to achieve that goal,” Jamieson says. “If there are bright, talented, passionate people who could be contributing to the goal, and you’re not helping to make sure they are included and feel included and have a seat at the table and have a voice in the conversation, you’re not fulfilling the responsibility.”

Women in particular have been particularly left out. Jamieson, only the second female president in IEEE’s history, is aware of the statistics in the global STEM communities. “Certainly by the numbers, women are not represented in engineering, technology and physical sciences fields in proportion to women in the population. This means that there are ideas being left out the conversation, and passion being left out of our efforts to innovate.”

In IEEE in particular, Jamieson points to the scarcity of female leadership at the executive level. “We all keep trying to do things and we make some progress, but if you sit in a TAB meeting or an IEEE board meeting and look around, there aren’t too many women, especially at the leadership level.” There is no one solution, Jamieson says, and points to the struggle across all areas of STEM to include a broader range of voices, while applauding IEEE’s Women in Engineering global initiative, particularly at the student branch level. “The challenge is that no one really knows what to do. Higher ed grapples with this, professional societies, industry, everyone agrees we need to do something, but there is no silver bullet.”

Whether it’s new and emerging technologies, initiatives to bring passionate voices to the table or the board room, or an ever-shifting perspective, there is no doubt that IEEE is as always, on the cusp of change.

In envisioning the organization’s future, Jamieson says, “I think that IEEE will have a much more coherent way of thinking about not only advancing technology, but the grander goal of advancing technology for humanity. This is becoming a more pressing societal need, and is an idea that is also evolving within the IEEE. But as the world changes over the next 40 years, that connection between technology and humanity is going to have to be tighter. How to make that strong linkage is something IEEE will have to figure out, and I’m confident that IEEE will figure it out.”

IEEE Society supports National Photonics Initiative (NPI)

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

npiFrom medicine and manufacturing to communication, defense, and energy, photonics plays an important role in the U. S. economy and the lives of its citizens. That’s why the IEEE Photonics Society partnered with four other technical organizations to support the National Photonics Initiative in Washington D.C., USA on 28 February. More than 100 representatives from government and the photonics industry gathered for the day-long event to raise awareness of the importance of photonics and to strategize for its future.

As a follow-up to the groundbreaking National Academy of Sciences report “Optics & Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation,” the event consisted of two segments: a morning overview of work done by subcommittees and industry sharing their future needs, and afternoon breakout sessions covering the five key optics and photonics sectors — communication, defense, health and medicine, manufacturing, and energy. Attendees collected input and identified focus areas for a National Photonics Initiative (NPI), a key recommendation of the Optics & Photonics report.

Read more about this important event. 

IEEE GRSS Announces plans for 2013 Data Fusion Contest

Monday, January 7th, 2013

2013 GRSS Data Fusion Contest

Recently, the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society (GRSS) announced plans for its 2013 Data Fusion Contest. The contest, which helps connect students and researchers around the world, evaluates existing methodologies at the research or operational level to solve remote sensing problems using data from various sensors.

The contest is open to both IEEE members and non-members and will consists of two parallel competitions: the Best Paper Award and the Best Classification Award. Final results will be announced at the 2013 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium in Melbourne, Australia, in July 2013. The winning teams will be awarded free iPads, IEEE Certificates of Appreciation during the Technical Committees and Chapters Luncheon, and an opportunity to receive free open access publication in an IEEE GRSS Journal. Contest details are available here.

Last year, roughly 1,150 people participated in the contest.  The IEEE GRSS Society awarded the winning teams with IEEE GRSS Certificates of Appreciation and monetary prizes at the 2012 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium.

IEEE Robotics and Automation Society hosts student event at IROS 2012

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

The IEEE Robotics and Automation Society continues its missions to get students interested in the growing field of robotics through its pre-college student event at the recent IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems 2012 (IROS) in Vilamoura, Portugal from 7 to 12 October 2012. The local organizer, The Institute of Systems and Robotics of University of Coimbra, invited students from schools of the Algarve region to visit the conference on 9 October.

There was tremendous response as 40 pre-college students from nearby schools, accompanied by teachers, accepted the invitation. The program, partially supported by the Portuguese Agency for the Scientific and Technological Culture, started with a plenary session on surgical robotics by Professor Paulo Dario from the University of Pisa, Italy, and “European Robotics Research: Achievements and Challenges” by Dr. Libor Kral. The students attended robot navigation competitions and toured the exhibitors’ areas before witnessing a seminar by Paulo Menezes entitled “Robots and How to Become a Robot Creator.”

The event follows a similar pre-college program the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society held at the 2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in May, which you can read about here. Both events have served as excellent forums to inspire young students to consider pursuing both engineering and, particularly, robotics, as a possible career choice.

A Women in Engineering Luncheon sponsored by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society was also held at IROS 2012. Over 60 guests joined RAS leaders to enjoy lunch while listening to helpful insight from speaker Nancy Amato.

IEEE receives ASAE Summit Award

Friday, October 12th, 2012


IEEE has received the 2012 Summit Award—the highest recognition bestowed by the American Society of Association Executives—for the IEEE Humanitarian Technology Challenge (HTC). The IEEE HTC is now merged with Engineering for Change, which seeks to develop technical, locally appropriate, and sustainable solutions to humanitarian challenges. The IEEE Power & Energy Society, IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society, and IEEE Computational Intelligence Society have contributed funding, technical knowledge, and volunteer work to projects under HTC.

Want to learn more about humanitarian projects under IEEE HTC? Check out the articles from our archive below.

IEEE launches major e-health pilot in India
IEEE Humanitarian Technology Challenge is saving lives in Peru’s Alto Amazonas
Self-maintaining solar power systems deliver electricity in impoverished regions
E-health solution tracks patient records in rural areas
IEEE Humanitarian Technology Challenge delivers solar power to villages in Haiti

IEEE EDS hosts Solar Day Student Competition at 2012 PVSC

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

On 3 June, a group of mostly 10th grade students from Taylor High School in Austin, Texas, USA took first place at the IEEE Electron Devices Society’s (EDS) Austin Solar Day Competition. The team won for its B.L.A.D.E van (Beginners Learning Alternative Designs for Energy), which it transformed into an alternative energy vehicle (A.E.V.) from a donated 1995 GMC Safari. To win, teams had to demonstrate the use of photovoltaics in a practical application, using only photovoltaics as the power source for the project.

To build the vehicle, the team met each week after school to solder 6″ x 6″ polycrystalline wafers and construct 144-watt solar panels. The students mounted the panels on the AEV to charge a bank of (8) 6-volt deep cycle batteries connected in a series-parallel circuit. The batteries are charged through voltage regulators and wired to inverters, with the inverters wired to weatherproof receptacles cut into the van. The team won, not only for building the solar cells and the energy system, and for netting sponsorships and materials donations, but for teaching the public about solar energy with fun activities like free movies in the park using a projector, DVD player and amplifier plugged into a weatherproof receptacle – all powered by the B.L.A.D.E. van.

IEEE EDS Austin Solar Day, held alongside the IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC), attracted about 2,000 people from the area. The competition allowed students to interact directly with world-famous photovoltaic technologists and businesses. Attendees included PV installers, PV buyers, students, utilities, and the general public interested in including solar power in their daily lives.

IEEE Power & Energy Society Scholarship Plus Award recipients announced

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

7 December 2011- The IEEE Power & Energy Society is pleased to announce the inaugural IEEE PES Scholarship Plus Initiative award recipients. Ninety-three (93) IEEE PES Scholarship recipients have been selected from 51 U.S. universities for the 2011-12 Academic year. These scholarships are being distributed through the IEEE Power & Energy Scholarship Fund which is being used to support the IEEE PES Scholarship Plus Initiative.

These undergraduate students were selected by industry and academic representatives based primarily upon: academic preparation; extra-curricular activities and leadership; interest in engineering in general, and power and energy engineering in particular; and overall assessment of student’s potential for a successful power and energy engineering career. Visit the IEEE PES Scholarship Plus Initiative web site for more information.

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Thursday, March 1st, 2012

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